Summer 1923: the modern world. Orphaned Lucy Marsh climbs into the back of an old army truck and is whisked off to the woods north of London – a land haunted by the past, where lost souls and monsters conceal themselves in the trees.
In a sunlit clearing she meets the ‘funny men’, a quartet of disfigured ex-soldiers named after Dorothy’s companions in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Here are the loved and the damaged, dark forests and darker histories, and the ever-present risk of discovery and violent retribution.
Praise from the Desmond Elliott Prize
“A title which hints at airy discombobulation conceals a novel of visceral design: red in tooth and claw, silk-velvet in heart and head. This demonic fairy tale, is it The Wizard of Oz exhumed to horrific purpose? A prequel to Decline and Fall? Or simply a great-aunt’s legend revisited? All these, and something supremely itself: a novel spun from a moment of family history which connects us to all times.”
About the Author
Xan Brooks is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster. He spent his rude youth as part of the founding editorial team of the Big Issue magazine and his respectable middle period as an associate editor at the Guardian, specialising in film. It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award in 2017 and longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in 2018.